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CDC Adolescent Vaping Report

The U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention produces a report on vaping in teens

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“Tobacco use and addiction mostly begin during youth and young adulthood. Nicotine exposure during adolescence can cause addiction, might harm brain development, and could lead to sustained tobacco product use among youths,” sets, at the outset, the tone and agenda for the report from The U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Tobacco Use Among Middle and High School Students was released on April 15th. In it they state: “one in four high school students and one in 13 middle school students reported current use of any tobacco product [any use greater than one a day over the previous month]. An estimated 4.7 million high school and middle school students reported current use of any tobacco product.”

The report repeated the mistakes of similar previous ones, and (again) drew predictable coverage in the media. “E-Cig use on the increase among youth,” cried ABC News. Their main takeaway from the study was: “From 2011-2015 the use of E-cigs rose from 1.5% to 16% among high school students.”

Likewise, WCPO Cincinnati declared: “E-cig use among teens rapidly rising!” Providing no balance to the story whatsoever, they added: “e-cigarette use among teens jumped 10 times. Three million [teenagers] reported using e-cigarettes.” Stating the obvious, WCPO continues: “The statistics is causing concern from those at the CDC. Adding to their concern is the lack of regulation on e-cigarettes and hookahs.” And, of course, if you are pushing an agenda without questioning it, why not add: “The FDA has not accepted e-cigarettes as a safe alternative to smoking tobacco. Limited studies have found e-cigarettes have their own risks, including the possibility of developing popcorn lung.”

Time Magazine stands isolated from the majority of coverage in that at least they place equal emphasis on the CDC reporting that a slashing of some teen smoking rates mirrored the growth in vaping. Shamefully, their coverage fails to contain any balancing information or deconstruction of the research.

The American Association for Science and Health (ACSH) immediately published a rebuttal of the report’s findings: “The results are disturbing — not just because of the number of kids reporting tobacco use, but because of the way the agency has defined it.” They continue: “Curiously, rather that celebrating the fact that fewer teens reported smoking cigars and cigarettes (and hookah use declined), the researchers focused on the supposed dangers of e-cigarettes.”

Stating what every vaper is probably thinking, ACSH go on: “There was no information gathered on the reason behind the uptick in e-cig use. Might it be possible that some of the students questioned had actually switched from using regular cigarettes? And wouldn’t that have been an example of harm reduction?”

ACSH bang the drum once more on the subject of the ridiculous nature of terming electronic cigarettes a ‘tobacco product’ when there is no tobacco contained in them. “The focus on nicotine addition secondary to e-cig use is likely a red herring, since as we have noted in the past, users are less likely to become addicted to nicotine from e-cigs than from, for example, nicotine gum.”

All in all, the language being used by the CDC is summed up by Jacob Sullum in his Reason blog: “The bizarre consequences of that scientifically unsound label can be seen in a recent press release from the (CDC) that deliberately obscures a decline in teenagers' tobacco use by pretending it did not happen.”

Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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